A minute after the bell rang at 9:05 a.m. on a recent Friday, a line had formed by the main entrance to Mandan High School.
One by one, students approached some of their peers, placing orders for hot chocolate, mochas and caramel macchiatos, to name a few of the drinks offered twice a month at the Braves Bean Coffee Shop.
The shop is run by students in the school’s work experience class, including sophomore Mckenzie Meuchel, who typically serves up Irish cream-flavored cappuccinos. The drinks, so far, have been a hit with students walking between classes.
“It seems like it,” she said. “It’s been popular with more students than staff at this point.”
About 13 students man the coffee shop through the work experience class, which is part of the school’s special education curriculum. The kids spend part of the school day working in the community at restaurants, gas stations, the library and other places.
“It helps our students who are in special education work on their money skills, their social skills and their work skills,” teacher Becca Voorhees said.
The coffee shop started up in January. The students run it every other Friday from 9-10:30 a.m.
Customers line up in front of the cash register, mulling over the menu and pulling out their wallets. The student workers relay their orders to classmates working behind the counter, who find the appropriate cups filled with hot chocolate mix or creamers and add either hot water or coffee to finish making the drink.
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When each cup is ready to go, senior Brennan Davis calls out the name of the student who ordered the drink, hands it over, and tells the student to “have a nice day.”
“I love it,” he said. “I get to interact with other people I might not know around the school.”
As he took a break from his duties on a recent Friday, he said he would go to math class when the shop closed, then head to lunch. He planned to spend the afternoon at Mandan’s Pizza Ranch, where he buses tables, puts away dishes and folds boxes that store food during deliveries.
He sometimes works alongside a former work experience student who has held a job at the restaurant for six years. It’s a good environment in which to work, Davis said.
“If you have a question, they will help you out,” he said.
When the school year ends, Davis hopes to go to college, then a police academy.
Until then, he’ll continue handing out drinks at the high school. After spring break, the students plan to add iced coffee to the menu as the weather warms up.
The class purchases supplies online and through Sam’s Club, Voorhees said. The shop puts the money it makes back into purchasing more items for the next time it opens.
Eventually, Voorhees would like to include other students at the school in helping to run the coffee shop alongside those in her class.
“We see us doing it next year and having different equipment, carts, making it more of a coffee shop feel,” she said.
Reach Amy R. Sisk at 701-250-8252 or email@example.com.
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